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Syria 68, U.s. 43, United States 18, Iraq 16, Assad 12, Obama 11, Afghanistan 9, John 9, United Nations 6, U.n. 6, Washington 6, Christiane Amanpour 5, Nascar 5, America 5, Pentagon 5, Libya 5, Barbara Starr 4, Peter King 4, Israel 4, Christiane 4,
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  CNN    CNN Newsroom    News/Business. Latest on the day's top news stories  
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    August 31, 2013
    12:00 - 1:31pm PDT  

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the president drew a red line a year ago. he said flatly -- i'm paraphrasing, but he said if the syrian government uses chemical weapons to slaughter some of their own citizens, the united states will respond. if the u.s. doesn't respond right now, doesn't he look weak? >> well, i cannot subjectively feel out what other people will feel about the united states. what authority the president of the united states, any president of the united states has to draw a red line that implies that our military is going to be placed in harm's way, i don't think there's constitutional authority to do that and feel compelled without the approval of the congress to carry forth. so rhetoric and losing lives are not nearly as important as making certain that you do the action. so looking weak is not like losing lives, and anybody who
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has lost people in terms of these wars or intrusions, i know that they would agree with me. >> you served in the military, and you insist that before the u.s. gets involved again in military action around the world, the united states should reinstate the draft. it doesn't look like you've got a whole lot of support for that out there, but you've been raising this issue now for several years, right, congressman? >> yes, that's right, but i don't see how any american who loves this country as much as i do can actually see that our democracy, our republic is in danger, how anyone that's able to make a contribution to protect us would deny the country their support. and this doesn't mean that everyone has to be in combat, but it does mean that everyone should put up and show their support for this effort. that's what war is all about. it's not because people dislike
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people or draw red lines. it's because they want the security of the united states of america, and to me, everybody that's willing -- strike that. everybody that's able to make that contribution should be forced to do it. then when the congress says that it's mandatory that we send troops, and these troops may be in harm's way, members of congress will hear from their voters, and their voters would say whether or not in their opinion there should be a red line, or in their opinion, whether or not the united states should attack another country, whether you call it war, limited war, the fact remains we were looking for weapons of mass sdru destructions, we didn't find it. so we know what war is, and people that have been involved in war know that it's hell, and it shouldn't be based on drawing red lines. >> you're obviously being very critical of the president right now for drawing that red line.
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i want to get reaction from your colleague, republican congressman peter king of long island. he's the chairman of the house subcommittee on counterterrorism -- counterintelligence and terrorism. this is a statement. i'll read it to you, congressman. president obama is advocating his responsibility as commander in chief and undermining the authority of future presidents. the president does not need congress to authorize a strike on syria. if assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians deserves a military response, and i believe it does, and if the president is seeking congressional approval, then he should call congress back into special session at the earliest date. the president doesn't need 535 members of congress to enforce his own red line. you totally disagree with peter king. tell our viewers quickly, because we're out of time, congressman rangel, why he's wrong and you're right. >> peter king i thought was on the right track when he said the president should call back the
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congress. but this whole idea that he doesn't need 535 -- at least i hope he's saying we need the majority. to an extent of what his belief is, it's 135th of the united states congress. so i respect him or anybody else who believes the president is authorized to attack another country without congressional approval. i am with him in terms of the congress should be given a right to vote, and we should have a national draft to make certain that everybody has skin in the game when we attack another country and put our troops in harm's way. >> strong views from charlie rangel. congressman, thanks very much. in the last hour we heard president obama make his powerful statement saying he has, in fact, already decided the united states should take military action in syria, but he also said he wants congressional authorization before he gives the execution order. listen to this.
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>> after careful deliberation, i have decided the united states should take military action against syrian regime targets. this would not be an open-ended intervention. we would not put boots on the ground. instead our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. that's why i made a second decision. i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american people's representatives in congress. for the last several days, we've heard from members of congress who want their voices to be heard. i absolutely agree. i ask you to take this vote for our national security. i am looking forward to the debate. in doing so, i ask you, members of congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment. ultimately this is not about who occupies this office at any given time. it's about who we are as a
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country. i believe that the people's representatives must be invested in what america does abroad. we're covering every angle of this story from here in washington, indeed, around the region and the world. jill dougherty is here. if you thought the u.s. was going to strike in the coming hours this weekend, indeed, in the fex fnext few days, not so . it's going to be at least september 9, a week from monday, when congress ends its break and gets back into session. >> we're getting the first reaction now. this is coming from the syrian national coalition spokesperson speaking from doha in qatar
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saying they were taken by surprise by president obama's decision, that there is great disappointment, and they fear, although they say yes, maybe it should, we'll wait and see how it goes in congress, but they're saying our fear now is that this lack of action could em bobolde the regime and they repeat the attacks in a more serious way, so we are quite concerned. you would have to say that's definitely an expected statement, because they really wanted some type of action immediately, very strong action, and already we're kind of critical of the president's limited objectives and limited strike that he was talking about. so that's the immediate reaction, and i think others -- you know, it can work both ways for the president internationally. some might say he is following democracy, et cetera. others might say, as representative king said, he's advocating his responsibility. >> strong words from representative peter king of the
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house and homeland security committee. barbara starr is standing by. the military, they're ready, they have all their contingency plans, their strike options, they're ready to go. but the president is saying, hold off for a while. let congress debate it and authorize it first. >> well, that's right, wolf, the warships remain on station. no indication they're going to move away any time soon. they may be replaced by other ships with their tomahawk missiles. the military question at hand perhaps now is, as jill would say, does this embolden either the assad regime or others in the region? what happens if assad starts moving for of his military around? the u.s. military is going to have to retarget, look for those delivery systems, the artillery, the aircraft, the missiles, the rockets. look for the commanding control centers. assad has time now to evade, if you will, from what he thought might have been hit by those
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tomahawk missiles. also in the region, the president made a case. israel, turkey, lebanon, jordan could be at risk from assad feeling emboldened, so we'll see in the coming days. i think the fundamental question that maybe some military people are scratching their heads on is, what happens if assad undertakes another chemical attack in the coming days? what happens then? and right now there is just no answers to that. >> are they assuming, or do they have hard evidence that in recent days since august 21st and all the talk of the u.s. strike strike, the syrian military has started hiding, moving around their assets that could be vulnerable? do they have hard evidence that's going on, or is that just an assumption of the department of defense? >> i think it's a bit of evidence and assumption. right now there are satellites, u.s. spy satellites, over syria literally 24/7. and what we know from our sources, they tell us that the
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u.s. intelligence community is conducting around-the-clock surveillance, looking for anything that is different. people moving around, equipment, material, things showing up where they didn't used to be or things disappearing, if you will. so it's exactly what you said, wolf. the surveillance is under way. they will have to be ready to go again, if you will, whenever and if the president orders. they have a target list right now, but in the coming days, that target list, those locations, are likely to change. >> barbara starr is over at the pentagon. all right, barbara, thank you very much. nick payton walsh is our man at the united nations right now. nick, i assume they're breathing a little bit easier. other u.n. officials. the u.s. is delayed at least 10 to 15 days. any notion of a military strike? >> reporter: i suppose on one hand he made it clear he thinks military action is appropriate, but yes, there is this 10-day delay now, which will feed into
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the secretary general here, and of course when asked earlier, his spokesman said, is a war without a resolution legal, and he effectively said it wouldn't be. what this time period now presents by barack obama does do is significantly increase the likelihood that we will have heard from u.n. inspect or's report before congress meets or around about when they begin that process. we don't have an exact timeline from the u.n. in fact, they're very keen to stay away from it, but they also stress they will expedite this process as quick as possible, and we're talking about samples being taken from the latest chemical sites in syria. they're probably going to start that in the laboratories tomorrow. when those results come back, which could take a week, and of course information is processed from interviews from witnesses, that's when the report comes together. i should point out this is simply establishing whether
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those weapons were used, but it's going to be very helpful to president obama and the court of public opinion, and of course if he's trying to convince congressmen. >> senator bob corker is joining us on the phone right now. you heard the president, senator corker. what did you think? >> well, you know, wolf, i've been urging for some time that the president come to congress, and i'm glad he's made that decision. i knew early on they wanted to go ahead and take military action, so that part was not a surprise. but coming to congress may at this point, in the history of our country, be exactly the right thing to do, and i just sent an e-mail to the white house chief of staff. obviously i was on a call in the situation room a little bit earlier today before the speech, but they now need to use every ounce of energy they have to make a case for the american people and the congress, but to do both, i feel like that case
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has not been made, and i think you know that i support a surgical proportionate response to what's happened. i do want to know how that's been carried out. i do know congress is not going to know every detail of that. that's not typically what occurs. but the way the resolution reads, what they're going to do, all those things are important, and again, i hope the president -- he will not talk about those things publicly, that's not appropriate, but the president now has a big case to be made. i hope he'll use every ounce of energy to make that case. i think that's important for our country, i think that's important for the world. >> if the vote were today, how would vote, senator corker? >> well, again, i want to see the resolution. i sent an e-mail off quickly wanting to see what it is that they wish to have authorized. >> what if it were simply an up or down vote, do you authorize
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the president of the united states in response to the syrian government's use of chemical weapons against its own civilia civilians, do you authorize the president to use military force against targets in syria? >> well, i've been out, you know, in front of this all along supporting a proportional surgical strike. i do not want to see boots on the ground. as a matter of fact, i don't want to see anything that alters our stated policy, which is to enable the syrian opposition to equipping and training to continue to carry this out until the balance. i want to see that happen. i will say i was just in the area two weeks ago, and arms had not been flowing, no ammunition is flowing, so i'm dismayed at our lack of support for the opposition at this point. but on an up or down vote, again, i do want to see the details, but i've been on the front end saying that i think this is an important thing for us to do.
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but now, very, very important for the president to make the case to the american people and to really get his heart into this. i saw his pbs interview the other day, or portions of it, and i just did not think he was saying those things are important for the american people to hear. so, look, i've been very involved in this. i was just on the syrian border of turkey and jordan. i was just in iraq. i see what's happening. not every congressman, not every senator, obviously, has taken the time or had the privilege of going and being able to do that. so it's very important for our president, again, to use every ounce of political capital he has to sell this, and i hope that's what he's going to be doing over the next week. >> i'm sure he'll be doing the best he can. it would be a real embarrassing
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public humiliation for his presidency if he were to lose that vote in either the senate or the house. my own gut tells me, senator corker, he'll have the vote in the senate. you'll be with him, most of the democrats presumably will be with him in the senate. it's more problematic for him in the house. do you want to give us your assessment of what it looks like in the house of representatives where there is a republican majority, but he has a lot of opposition against plenty of democrats who don't want to use force in syria. >> yeah. so i do think -- look, i think it is problematic, and it could be problematic in both bodies. again, for people who aren't on committees of jurisdiction or just haven't been with the arena may not necessarily understand what's happening there. as they're out visiting town hall meetings and other places, look, the american people today are not supportive of this. and one of the things that we are likely to do, it might just represent the people of our state or districts depending on
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whether we're senators or congressmen, but also to get out and to explain and promote ideas that we believe are in the best interests of our country. today i do not think the country is there, and i think it's very important for the president to lay out why he wishes to do this, and candidly to us, privately, how he wishes to do this. but wolf, i would say, look, in my own state of tennessee, as forward as identify be've been can tell the american people are very concerned about entering into a conflict like we've had in iraq, like we've had in afghanistan, and i want to say i do not want to see that, either. i want to see something that's surgical, that's proportional, and again, we need to carry out the policy that he's announced has been carried out overtly right now which, again, i have an issue with, but we need to go
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ahead and move on in strengthening the ability of this vetted opposition to do what they're doing. i've been in these refugee camps. the syrian people are upset with us for having said we're going to do something but having not followed through, and to me it's dismay at the way we've been carrying out the support, quote, quote, quote, of the vetted opposition. so to me there are two things that need to be talked about publicly, to be explained to the american people, and i hope the president, again, will use every ounce of energy he has, otherwise it could be looked at as him having second thoughts and using this as a way to actually not carry out what he stated that he wishes to do. >> yeah. well, the president himself said he doesn't want another iraq, doesn't want another
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afghanistan, doesn't want u.s. boots on the ground, u.s. troops on the ground, doesn't want a prolonged operation, it would be very limited. but as you know, senator, a lot of our viewers know, once you start something, there are unintended consequences and you don't know where it winds up. we have to leave it there. always a pleasure to speak with you, senator corker. thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> senator bob corker of tennessee, key member of the senate relations committee. christian amanpour standing by in london, jimmy, the former commander of sencom. he'll be here as well. the continued crisis is syria continues right after this. i have low testosterone. there, i said it.
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get the blood tests. change your number. turn it up. androgel 1.62%. we're not dmiconsidering an open-ended commitment, we're not considering any boots on the ground approach. what we will do is consider options that meet the narrow concern around chemical weapons, understanding that there is not going to be a solely military solution to the underlying conflict and tragedy that's taking place in syria. >> that was the president yesterday at the white house. today in the rose garden, he went further, saying he has finally made a decision to use military force against syrian targets as a result of its use of chemical weapons, but he will first go to congress and get a
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debate in congress the week of september 9 when congress gets back into session, and then formal authorization from the senate and the house of representatives. jim a kcosta is our senior hous representative getting more information. what have you learned? >> reporter: i just came out from a background briefing with officials who laid out how the president came to this decision. this is very much, i think, very interesting to our viewers. president obama, according to senior administration officials, came to this decision last night at 7:00 to change his mind in terms of how to go about doing this. he decided at 7:00 yesterday evening to go ahead and seek congressional authorization. he came to that decision after bakely going on basically going on a walk, his advisers say, with his chief of staff alex mcdonough, and basically hashing it out with
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his security team, going over there was a robust debate about the president's decisions, because in the words of one senior administration official, this is a decision that is not without risk, because obviously they can't foresee what might happen in the congress, they can't foresee what might happen in syria with respect to the assad government and what they might be doing with their temperature cal weapons. but needless to say, wolf, the president was wrestling with the idea of seeking congressional authorization with senior officials. he didn't really share that with anybody. he was wrestling with this inside his head, and then started going to his chief of staff, his other advisers, with this decision he wanted to make. and just a number of things to note here, wolf, one being that according to senior administration officials, they weren't really talking about seeking congressional authorization up until the point the president brought up this idea. and that when he decided to make this decision after that debate, a senior administration official
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says the national security team decided they were going to go ahead and support the president. how this affects things militarily, a senior administration official says that the joint chief's chairman, martin dempsey, told the president there wouldn't be any military ramifications on this, that essentially that their plans, their options for delivering a military strike on syria would not be affected by waiting a week or two for congress to authorize this. and so obviously there are lots of different questions to ask about this, but the headline here, wolf, is that the president very late in the decision-making process decided to go ahead and seek this congressional authorization at roughly 7:00 last night. and administration officials also point out it was also last night when the president came to his final decision to use military force. but it's one that he's now going to invite congress to share. wolf? >> did you get a sense in this his briefing that you and other
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reporters had, that they were pretty confident they would get that vote in the house and the senate authorizing the president to use force? >> they believe they're going to get the vote. what they're going to say to the congre congress, and the administration officials talked about this, a couple of things. one is they made a point of saying back in 1997, the congress passed the chemical weapons convention that the united states and countries around the world have signed onto. they're saying this red line not only belongs to the president, it belongs to the congress, and that it's up to the congress to enforce it as well as the president. and so they're going to be saying that. but they also want to get the congress more invested in this process. this came up a number of times during this briefing, wolf. they say they're not seating any constitutional authority when it comes to war powers to the congress, but they're saying in this circumstance, and perhaps in future circumstances, it would be best if the congress were more involved in the
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decision-making process when it comes to taking military action, so the president made this decision here, and people are already start to go ask ting to question, what about libya? libya was a different situation, senior officials say, and that came up in the briefing. they're saying in the situation with libya, there was a big humanitarian need, an immediate ne need, that rebel positions and towns where the rebel positions were being held were at risk of being wiped out. so time was of the essence at that point, and that is why the president decided to go along with nato and deliver that military force there and not seek congressional authorization. that is what the senior administration officials are saying. they realize that this is going to come perhaps as a bit of a surprise to congress and the world that the president made this decision so late in the game yesterday evening, but they believe it buys them some time diplomatically. around the world they think it will go a long way for the world
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to see that the united states, not just the president, but the congress is acting unified on this one, and also they want congress to be more comfortable with the material. they say starting this weekend, the classified materials, not just the unclassified materials, but the classified materials will be available to members of congress if they want to go through them. so they'll get a better read of the situation in syria and what happened last week than what the general public has at this point, wolf. >> jim acosta with some new reporting from the white house. good stuff. thanks so much. christiane amanpour joining us once again. christiane, there is a lot of concern. would the president launch a military strike before the g-20 summit in petersburg, russia russia this coming week or wait until afterwards -- we now know he's going to wait until after that g-20 summit. but you know, christiane, when all the 20 world leaders get together at that g-20 summit, this subject of syria and u.s. military action is going to be really hovering over those
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discussions. >> absolutely. and it's just going to be a huge amount of hand wringing as has been going on for the last two and a half years. these are truly extraordinary developments. you obviously have many different views in many different parts of the world about what should be done. but the bottom line is that 100,000 people have been killed in syria, according to the united nations, and that has happened since march of 2011. and the president and his allies have said that assad must go, that this shouldn't stand, and et cetera. but they have not actually put any force or oomph or anything behind that. most people, many, many people, say they have actually hidden behind the skirts of russian and chinese intransigents to not get involved in syria. they don't want to do it and therefore they're not doing it. the problem now is that the game has changed. weapons of mass destruction are something that the international
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community cannot, by legal conventions, they cannot turn a blind eye to. and as jim acosta says, in libya, the white house briefers have said in libya, time was of the essence because it was to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. that, of course, was true, but that humanitarian catastrophe has befallen the people of syria. 500 have been killed in just the latest illegal chemical weapons attack by many different countries' intelligence. there have been at least ten or several dozen attacks by chemical weapons. in april when i talked to the head of the free syrian army who is supported by the west, by the united states, by the europeans, by the arab nations, he told me then after that chemical weapons attack that they were terribly afraid that if this was not met with some kind of punitive
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action, then bashar assad, feeling the military pressure from the opposition, would continue to use the chemical weapons, as he has. this is simply an issue that's been delayed now, the reaction to it, and who knows what's going to happen next. >> we do know over the next days and weeks and months, presumably, it will continue to happen in syria what's been going on for the past two and a half years, the slaughter of a whole lot of people in this brutal, brutal civil war. it doesn't look like that's about to end any time son. christiane, stand by. i want to take a quick break and resume our special kovrcoverage here. retired general commander is standing by live. also, has the president made the case to strike syria? has he made it well yet? our special look at the crisis in syria will continue after this short break.
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you have time to shop for car insurance today? yeah. i heard about progressive's "name your price" tool? i guess you can tell them how much you want to pay and it gives you a range of options to choose from. huh? i'm looking at it right now. oh, yeah? yeah. what's the... guest room situation? the "name your price" tool, making the world a little more progressive.
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i know well that we are weary of war. we ended one war in iraq, we're ending another in afghanistan, and the american people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in syria with our military. in that part of the world there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the arab spring have unleashed issues that will take many years to resolve. that's why we're not comfortable putting our troops in the middle of someone else's war. >> president obama speaking in the rose garden just a little while ago. he is making it clear he is ready to strike syria, but knowing america is so weary of war right now after iraq and afghanistan, the president also asking for congress to approve military action.
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a man who once led american troops in the middle east, commander of the u.s. military central command is retired marine corps general anthony zinney. he's joining us now. you heard what the president had to say. i know the military is ready for all contingencies, general, they always are. but you don't know, necessarily, when you start something what the unintended consequences are going to be. as much as the president says he doesn't want another iraq or afghanistan, you don't know where this wind s up, do you? >> no, you don't. i'm always saying that a wise and prudent military commander plans against capabilities, the capability of the enemy to respond, react, counterattack is not against assumptions. you take us back to iraq where we sort of assumed away problems. there would be flowers in the street, a liberation, a cake walk, and many of us advised not to count on that. and i think it's prudent that we think in those terms.
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the president has said this is not a campaign, but we can't be sure that assad won't continue to do this. if he continues to do unacceptable acts, you have to be prepared to respond. military commanders always ask two questions. if what, then what? if he does something that's not acceptable again, what do you want me to do? and i think that's critical in this. >> because i've spoken over the past week or so with a lot of military officers, and i think it's fair to say, and you can correct me if i'm wrong, general zinni, that the most reluctant right now within the political, national security establishment in washington are the military right now because they're worried about those unintended consequences. political types, not necessarily always that reluctant. the military could be the most reluctant warriors right now based on their own experience. but weigh in on that. >> well, you know, the most important thing for a military
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commander to receive is a sound strategy. you know, based on political objectives that are precisely stated. so he knows how to fit his military strategy and plan. when we have a strategy that's half baked or not thought out or we lack a strategy, then we know the military is going to be with the round. i think we've seen this in iraq and afghanistan, even going back to vietnam and elsewhere where there is no viable strategy, where the political objectives are unclear and where we see constantly changing objectives being given to the military. you know, i was in iraq and afghanistan doing assessments both places. one of the things that struck me, particularly in afghanistan, i was there in the tenth year. we had ten commanders in ten years. we had seven sencom commanders, five chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff. and every time we made these kinds of changes, and every time someone comes up with another
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good idea, it's the sergeants and the corporals on the bottom end that gets whipped around on this. >> if the president of the united states were to call you, and he probably won't because you're retired, but let's say he were to call you and say, general zinni, i want your best, honest and most candid advice right now. we have the most absolute hard efrd the syrian government killed 1400 people, 400 of which were children with chemical weapons that were banned for a long time. what should we do militarily? what would you say to president obama? >> i think, first of all, he's doing the right thing now. he's focusing this on the chemical weapons convention. this convention was ratified by congress. so he is confining this to enforcing the convention and to applying military action in its enforcement. and i think that's where we have to keep the case. the danger in the debate is, and
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i think you mentioned this, that we could get carried away on support for the civil war, and this debate can go far afield from that particular narrow focus. the only thing i would like to see from the president is he keeps talking about this not being a long-term commitment or not being a campaign. and, again, that presumes we're not going to see repeats of assad's crossing red lines or doing unacceptable things. and the planning has to be then what if he does? and i would like to see a more drawn-out strategy if that happens. i like the idea that he's going to congress. look, right now the polls show 79% of the american people are not necessarily in favor and do want the congress to weigh in. the military likes to go into combat knowing we have the full support of the american people. and that's really voiced through the representatives in congress. so i do think this is a positive step in those terms.
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>> that nbc news poll you're referring to yesterday said 79% of the american public do want congressional approval before military action in syria. 16% said not required. so if the president is looking at the polls, he has now decided he wants congressional authorization as well. he says that would be the right thing to do. he might not get it. there's no guarantee he'll get it. probably in the senate, my own sense is, maybe not in the house of representatives, but it would be pretty embarrassing if he were to suffer a setback like that as david cameron, the prime minister of britain, suffered in the parliament the other day. take us inside the u.n. central command right now. the central command is in charge of the middle east. you have a lot of warships in the eastern mediterranean, you have a lot of assets in the persian gulf as well. what's going on as they're watching all these various political debates unfolding?
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>> well, the first thing is, obviously, your command and control structure is set up and tested. you have to have assured communications with all those moving parts that have to come together to execute this. secondly, you're prepared to protect yourself. you're forced protection assets. you don't know what the response might be, where it might be, and i think it's prudent for all commanders, not just sencom, to heighten their own security levels just in case something happens. and i would think our embassies and state department and other government agencies around the world would be doing the same. but at this point, i think everything is set in place and they would just be ready and waiting for the execution order. >> general anthony zinni, former head of the u.n. central command. as usual, thank you very much for joining us. >> sure thing. we'll continue our special coverage of the crisis in syria right after this.
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here's my question for every member of congress and every member of the global community. what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? >> the president of the united states forcefully making the case for military action against
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syria as a result of its alleged use of chemical weapons against syrian civilians on august 21st. but he also said before he gives the order to launch air strikes, missile strikes, he wants congress to debate the issue, then pass resolutions in both the house and the senate. dramatic announcement today from the president of the united states. let's discuss and get some perspective. joining us on the phone right now from austin, texas is the presidential historian doug brinkley. he's looking ahead, doug. i suspect to his legacy. he didn't have to ask congress for authorization, but he decided last night to do it and now he has done that. what do you think? >> well, that's correct, and president obama now has quite a sales job to do here. i mean, it's not just a matter of convincing some republicans to go along with him, but liberals in congress are right now saying, as you had charles rangel on, they're not for this, and he's going to have to convince the black caucus to go
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along with him. he's going to have to get environmental democrats that are worrying about blowing up oil fields, for example, in syria on its side. so you saw the prosecution of assad starting yesterday with secretary of state kerry. i thought the president used strong words today, but it would really have to be a campaign here over the next ten days where he's got to pull every ace up his sleeve and try to get as many votes as he can. it's going to be a very historic vote. >> it certainly will be. doug, hold on a moment. i want to condition this conversation but i want to bring in our chief national correspondent christiane amanpour. she's joining us from london. christiane, this is an exceedingly sensitive moment in president obama's presidency. if you'll remember, in the first year of his presidency, he won the nobel peace prize. a lot of people were wondering why was he entitled to the nobel peace prize then? this is a solemn moment with him
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going forward on attacks on syria. >> they are talking about how the president may have rewritten or reestablished the war powers act. here's the thing. now we've had the reaction in england, we've had the former secretary william hague. he tweeted that president obama made a very strong speech. we've heard from sources that the president in france was contacted by president obama just before he came out publicly this afternoon, and president olan says he still stands ready to, quote, punish, sanction syria for what it's done, the syrian regime. i honestly can't imagine that the american people would not accept that the most banned weapons in international law, weapons of mass destruction, are something that can be used with impunity. i think the president this afternoon, secretary of state john kerry earlier this week, made very, very compelling reasons as to why this violation of the highest norms of international law cannot be
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tolerated for the suffering, for the deaths, for the unacceptable attacks that have been committed. i am sure the american people can understand, even though they are tired of war, that this is something that cannot be allowed to stand. so i think that's what the challenge will be going forward. with all due respect to charlie rangel who you've just been talking to, look, he is a war veteran. he in the korean war won a bronze star and a purple heart. he knows the ugliness of war, therefore, he knows the united states cannot sit back and tolerate others using weapons of mass destruction. with all due respect to the former sencom commander, general zinni, who just told you obviously commanders want strategies and clear plans before they go into battle. he talked about the sergeants and the corporals. clearly they also want strong leadership. but this is not about that. this is not about boots on the ground. this is not about engaging in a big war. and we, wolf, you and i and many reporters over the years, have been reporting on these limited
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strikes for decades. president clinton operated many times against iraq in this way, and it had actual results. it wasn't full scale war, it wasn't boots on the ground, but it kept saddam hussein boxed in his ugly little box there in iraq and he wasn't able to perpetrate attacks of mass destruction. this is what's at stake here, this is why it matters, and this is why it will be so interestin congress and the american people that the laws assigned in their name have to be uphold and cannot be used with impunityimp >> very powerful case. let's get some reaction to that from doug brinkley, the presidential historian. doug, you know the american public is very war weary right now after ten years in iraq and 13 years or whatever in afghanistan. >> well, yes, they are, but the president is going to have to give them a quick lesson in history, including congress.
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in 1997 congress passed a chemical convention, saying that that's one thing in the 21st century we're not going to be tolerating, is the use of chemical weapons to kill people. and assad has just done that. he's created great instability in the middle east. this is right at israel's back door. it's a big moment for the president. and you know, when bill clinton goes around and gives speeches, he often says his biggest regrets was that he didn't act sooner on international crisis, when he was president, whether it's rwanda or bosnia or kosovo. i think this president has been getting criticism but he's willing now to put his entire foreign policy on the line. i do think that he's trying to make the obama red line, the american people's red line. it wasn't about my feelings, it's about what we as a country stand for. the question is will congress bite. will congress say, yeah, that
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was our red line, too. it's so partisan in washington and it will be very interesting to see where individual legislators fall down on this. >> what do you think christian would do if the house of representatives rejects that authorization? >> i don't know. i'm not in those briefings. i just don't know. he said today he knew he could do this without congressional approval. he would prefer to get congressional approval and put it, you know, before the american people through their elected representatives. i don't know, but i guess what i do know is that a huge case has now been made by the president of the united states, by the secretary of the state of the united states, by presidents of france, by prime minister of england, et cetera, of great britain, why this kind of unacceptable attack cannot be allowed to take place without being punished, without being -- the perpetrators being held accountable. all of these have concluded a chemical attack did take place. a very severe one. it meets the standard that
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president obama himself laid out last year, a significant large-scale chemical attack. if by president obama's own count, nearly 1500 people, men, women, and children, have been killed by this. then that meets that red line. and if all these world leaders have said that this cannot stand, then it is allowed to stand, that is a major problem and it completely scrambles the credibility of any kind of world order. it is actually a significant as that. it's not just, you know, it's not just something that we need to do something about just do anything, this is so terrible. it's really about the world order and united nations knows that as well. look, even syria signed on to the geneva protocol on -- against the use of chemical weapons back in 1925. that's even before the united nations. this is long established. and this cannot be allowed to stand. >> the more recent convention, the international convention banning chemical weapons, i
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think with 1993, syrians one of half a dozen countrieses that didn't sign on. >> 1993. >> they did sign on earlier in the 1920s. you're right on that. >> yeah. that's the -- that's international law. that is a precedent. and i think many, many people who have been looking at this certainly, you know, the legal experts, the british government has consulted, the american government has consulted, the administrations. clearly there is a huge amount of legal precedence for holding accountable those who perpetrate the highest crimes under international law. i've covered genocides that weren't met in rwanda, for instance. in bosnia, the genocide was not met by punishment until after it happened. and then when it did, it stopped the killing there. and these are incredibly important precedence. we cannot tolerate the use of nuclear weapons. we cannot tolerate the use of chemical and biological weapons. this is what we have grown up being taught. this is what is taught to us and
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taught to people at war colleges and taught to people presumably in legal classes, in international humanitarian law. so this is kind of a -- this is it. this is it. what they do about it will stand the test of history. >> like so many of our viewers here in the united states and around the world we love your passion, christiane. thanks so much. don't go too far. we have much more to discuss. christiane amanpour in london. much more of our special coverage of the crisis in syria right after this. ♪ (woman) this place has got really good chocolate shakes. (growls) (man) that's a good look for you. (woman) that was fun. (man) yeah. (man) let me help you out with the.. (woman)...oh no, i got it. (man) you sure? (woman) just pop the trunk. (man vo) i may not know where the road will lead, but... i'm sure my subaru will get me there.
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this morning, john boehner, harry reid, nancy pelosi and mitch mcconnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy. a country faces few decisions as grave as using military force. even when that force is limited.
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i respect the views of those who call for caution, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that i was elected in part to end. but if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing. >> the president making a dramatic announcement at the white house just in the past few hours, saying he has authorized the use of military force against targets in syria because of its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people but also asking the house of representatives and the u.s. senate to be partners to come onboard, to debate the issue and then to formally go ahead and vote on authorization, legislation authorizing the president to go forward. the president did not say he would -- if he loses that vote he would not go forward with the military strike but he wants military authorization from congress the week of september
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9th, a week from monday, the congress will reconvene. they will debate, they will discuss, and then they will vote. that's it for me. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. my colleague and friend john berman picks up on the crisis in syria right now. hello, everyone. i am john berman. syria is the biggest story in the world right now. and that story just took a surprising turn. president obama taking the podium at the white house a short time ago, many expected this to be the official annou e announcement of an i'm meant strike on syria, but instead, this is what he said. >> after careful deliberation i have decided that the united states should take military action against syrian regime targets. this would not be an open-nded intervention. we would not put boots on the ground. instead, our action would be designed to be limited in
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duration and scope. that's why i've made a second decisi decision. i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american people's representatives in congress. over the last several days we've heard from members of congress who want their voices to be heard. i absolutely agree. i ask you to take this vote for a national security. i am looking forward to the debate. in doing so i ask you, members of congress, to consider that some things are more important than i'm partisan differences at the moment. it is not about who occupies this office at any given time, it's about who we are as a country. i believe the peoples representatives must be invested in what america does abroad. >> so the president telling the world that a strike on syria will only happen if congress decides it should. members of congress of course
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are still on break right now, so any military action the u.s. might take would be at least ten days from now, if at all. so over the coming hours we're going to be covering every angle of this developing situation from the now delayed plans to strike, the findings of the u.n. weapons inspectors which are now just being reported to the united nations. and there have also been scattered protests around the u.s. >> obama. hands off syria. >> hands off syria. that chant also being echoed at some protests around the world. >> hands off syria! hands off syria! hands off syria! >> whatever they're saying on the streets right now it does now seem a strike against syria is in the hands of the united states congress. jim acosta is covering events
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for us at the white house while dana bash is in our washington bureau. and, jim, the timing of this decision simply fascinating and based on what you're hearing, really last minute. >> very much so, john. this was a very dramatic development that took place here at the white house yesterday after his administration was essentially moving in the direction of eminent military action, perhaps as soon as this weekend. the president made a different decision. at 7:00 last night he really made a last-minute decision to slow down, buy himself some time, and seek authorization from congress. according to senior administration officials who explained how all of this played out to a group of reporters, within the last hour, it sort of takes a little bit of time to explain but it's worth listening to. at first the story first starts, according to the senior administration officials, that this option of seeking directional approval was not really talked about among his top advisers. it was something just just really kicking around inside the
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president's head, according to these officials. late yesterday after he made those remarks after sitting down with the baltic leaders and the secretary of state made yet another passionate statement at the state department, president obama at around 6:00 last night decided to go on a walk with his chief of staff, dennis. and at this point he started to layout some of his concerns about moving forward without congressional authorization. and then at 7:00, he started talking to his national security advisers about this decision. and according to these senior administration officials, at that point there was sort of a robust debate that broke out among his national security team over whether or not this was a good idea. but at the end of the day, the president is the president and his national security team, according to the senior administration officials, now support this decision. but you're right, john, i mean, this opens up a lot of different questions. first and foremost, can he get this passed through the congress. i asked senior administration officials about this during this brief that they gave to
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reporters and they just really didn't want to answer that question. they say at this point they don't feel like they're changing the calculus when it comes to who has the constitutional authority to take military action. they say in this instance, they want to get the congress, the peoples representatives, more invested in this decision. they point out in 1997 the congress ratified the chemical weapons convention that was signed on to by many different nations around the world. they say this is not only the president's red line, it is congress' red line. >> let's find out what our own congressional expert has to say about this, dana bash. david axelrod sent out a tweet an hour ago which said that, congress is now the dog that caught the car. a lot of members of congress had been calling for a vote on syria. they're getting it now. the question is, which way do you think this vote goes? any signs? >> well put and, no, it is still a question mark. sources i'm talking to thus far are feeling much more confident
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in authorization passing in the democratic-led senate. not so much because it's led by the president's own party, because just -- because somebody's a democrat does not mean they support military action. in some cases it's just the opposite. more because of the makeup of the senate it has more moderates. fewer people on either extreme, rm republican or democratic extreme on the house, meaning those people tend to be more libertarian, more anti-war in general. having said that, i think what is also interesting, and maybe important context to add to jim's reporting about the dramatic turn around that the president had, i was told by a republican senator who participated in a briefing with gop and democratic senators on the armed services and foreign relations committees yesterday afternoon that there was some serious pushback from democrats and not anti-war liberal democrats but moderate democrats. two obama officials saying the president needs to come to congress to get authorization.
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it is certainly interest that that call didn't happen in a vacuum. it was part of a larger discussion. many more people pushing for authorization but the fact that these kinds of democrats, people in the president's own party were pushing for that in this private call and just a few hours later the president did make that decision after taking that walk that jim talked about with dennis, his chief of staff and a veteran of the united states senate, somebody who understands the politics there, is very, very interesting. >> and now it looks like the president and the white house has somewhere between five and six days for an intense lobbying effort before the senate does take this up. >> and add one more thing on the timing of this. senate democratic sources say that they are not ruling out bringing the senate back before the scheduled date, which is september 9th. they could be coming back this coming week. it's not yet decided. on the house side, house speaker john boehner made clear in a statement that he does not see a vote happening there. so the following week.
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>> watch the space on the senate timing. dana bash, appreciate it. meanwhile in washington and beyond, politicians have staking out their positions now with many but not all supporting the president. the house gop leadership issued this statement. they said, we are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised. in con so tags with the president we expect the house to consider a measure the week of september 9th. that's den ten days away. peter king on counter intelligence and terrorism had this to say. he said, president obama is a difficult indicating his responsibility and commander in chief and undermining the authority of future presidents. the president does not need congress to authorize a strike in syria. and british prime minister david cameron who just lost his own vote in his house of commons put out, he said, i understand and support barack obama's position on syria.
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and there's one more we don't have a graphic for which is fascinating. senators john mccain and lindeyy graham saying, that they believe there should be a response to what they call a chemical weapons attack in syria but they say this, however, in good conscience we cannot support isolated military strikes in syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield. so it seems like some of those pro intervention senator tons republican side, even they may be hard votes for the president. of course, any decision the u.s. makes on military action or inaction has huge implications for syria's neighbors. to the north is turkey, to the south u.s. ally israel and the entire arab world, lebanon, iraq, jordan. in christiane amanpour chief international correspondent for us. christiane, one of the things you heard secretary of state john kerry say yesterday when he was pushing for action in syria was saying that u.s. credibility
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is on the line. by that, he certainly implied credibility in the arab world. how does this decision by the president today, do you think it affects u.s. credibility? >> well, i think around the whole world and really for the whole world order weapons of mass destruction of which chemical weapons are one type are banned by the highest standards of international law. this is a major issue. this is t not just a massacre, as terrible as they are. this is a crime committed with a weapon of mass destruction. according to kerry the u.s. officials called the members of the leadership of the syrian opposition to say that the u.s. does still plan to hold the perpetrators of chemical weapons affair accountable. but we've also heard from members of the syrian opposition that they are incredibly disappointed, they tell cnn, they believed that they were on the verge of seeing strikes against bashar assad regime for this latest use of chemical weapons and just about several
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months ago in the last such use, which was unmet by any punitive measures, i was told that they were very, very afraid, the syrian opposition was very afraid that if it wasn't met, then a terrible new catastrophe with chemical weapons would happen. of course, that has happened. we also heard tweets from here in britain whereby the foreign secretary william hague even though their prime minister was defeated in his attempt to join this military action, he said obama, the president, made a very, very strong speech today. we've also heard that the president of france assured the united states, assured president obama that he stands ready to punish the perpetrators of these chemical weapons attacks. that's what's going on right now. but nobody really knows what the next step may be. perhaps we'll wait to see what happens when the chemical weapons investigators publicly reveal their takings, whether that might add momentum to then continue this attempt to hold the perpetrators accountable. john? >> we know the president's speech was broadcast in syria.
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there was no question that the whole world will be watching when the u.s. congress takes up this debate. christi christiane amanpour, thank you. the president is willing to wait for congress. he's asked them to vote. but with ago ahead, what would a limited military option against the assad regime actually look like? ahead, we're going to go to the pentagon for an answer. [ male announcer ] julia child became a famous chef at age 51. picasso painted one of his master works at 56. doris taerbaum finished her first marathon at 50. not everyone peaks in their twenties. throughout their lives. passion keeps them realizing possibilities. an ally for real possibilities. aarp. find tools and support at aarp.org/possibilities.
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block the acid with prilosec otc, and don't get heartburn in the first place. [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn. i'm john berman in new york. we're back with cnn's special coverage of the crisis in syria. while president obama seeked congressional supposed for the for military action in syria a recent poll shows that american s do seem split on tissue. nbc poll conducted a few days ago found that 42% support u.s. military action in syria but 50% are opposed. i should tell you that number is essentially split when you ask them if they support a limited operation. a majority supports that. meanwhile, though, people took to the streets today as we showed you before to make their voices heard. there were some small demonstrations in several u.s. cities and around the world to protest a possible u.s. military action on syria. >> hands off syria!
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obama, hands off syria! >> dozens rallied outside the white house, right outside where the president was spending his entire day. in australia people gathered in sydney against military intervention in syria. and in london, where the uk parliament voted this week to not join the u.s. military in any proposed action. although prime minister david cameron did give his backing today to the president's statement that he made in the rose garden. the british prime minister said i understand and support barack obama's position on syria. even in the face of the protests and the complaints from some people around the world, the president during his rose garden speech said that military action will be just as effective now, next week, or next month. meanwhile, the assad regime says it is ready for whatever the u.s. might give out. it is threatening israel, saying it could be a target for retaliation. i want to go now to the pentagon and our barbara starr. and, barbara, one of the key
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questions that people have been asking since the president's statement is this, what would a delay mean for assad and syria? might he take advantage of it and how would the u.s. be willing to respond to that? >> well, we've been talking to sources here at the pentagon about just that question, john. not a lot of good answers just yet. one that senior official who has been very involved in all of this say i want to quote here, says if the syrian regime thinks they will gain by any delay, they will be sorely mistaken. but what does that really mean? the key question on the table, if the syrian regime were to undertake another gas attack or chemical attack against its own people, how would the u.s. then respond before any congressional action? and nobody really knows the answer. that's the question on the table for president obama, what would he do? another senior official say they will be able to cope with any movement of syrian forces around
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the country and any dispersal of forces around assad may be undertaken and they believe he is to avoid a possible u.s. attack. so they are talking a lot about being able to cope with all of this. but the real reality is we are not seeing any specifics. john? >> what does the delay mean for the u.s. warships that are in the med titerranean right now, e targets that may have been targeted this weekend will not be the targets ten days from now if congress approves of the measure. >> exactly. they might not be. the tomahawk missiles use gps satellite coordinates to be guided to their targets very precise. so if they want to target an artillery battery somewhere in a suburb of damascus, they know the gps coordinates. they plug them into the missile, that's what the missile goes after. in the next ten days if assad decides to move the missiles around, if command and control elements equipment is dispersed,
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they have to keep after that using satellites to look for where this stuff is and keep reprogramming the missiles with those new gps coordinates. it's not that it's complicated. they know how to do it but it's a question of keeping up with whatever assad may decide to do with his own force, keeping one step ahead of where he may be disbursing his men and material. john? >> thanks to barbara starr at the pentagon. thank you so much. i want to bring in now eye van watson, live on the border between syria and turkey. eye v ivan, do you have any sense of what the syrian regime is saying to this about the call to congress and what the rebels are saying? >> no, so far on the syrian government news websites, there's just been a few notes, just announcing, john, that obama has basically made this decision so to try to get congressional authority for any kind of use of force.
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what we're -- of course, remarkable that it was carrying his speech live on syrian state tv. now, we're getting a very different message coming from the syrian opposition right now. i spoke to a spokesman of the national syrian coalition. he was calling this a great disappointment that already obama had basically decided that the syrian regime was guilty of using chemical weapons and the decision not to act right now, the fear now is that that lack of action could embolden the regime further. i've been talking to rank and file syrian rebels who cross the border every day between syria and turkey and let me say, it's very rare to hear them say anything very nice about the u.s. over the course of the last year. but everybody i spoke to over the last 48 hours were saying, yeah, we really want the u.s. to hit our number one enemy, adversa adversary, bashar al-assad. and right now social networking, syrian opposition voices, have
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been lighting up, calling obama a coward for not carrying through with his threat, basically, to hit bashar al-assad and his military forces. john? >> any sense what the u.s. allies in turkey where you're standing right now, what do they think of this delay? >> well, one turkish official says this is a firm expression of u.s. determination to act. and, of course, the internal decision making addressing congress and getting congressional approval, that's something that the turkish government doesn't want to comment on. it is very important to note, though, that the turkish government is not only a member of the nato military alliance and ally of the u.s. in the middle east but it is also one of the most outspoken opponents of bashar al-assad and the regime in damascus and one of the most fervent supporters and patrons of the syrian opposition
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and the syrian opposition. so the turkish president came out last night to a remarkable statement to turkish journalists where he said, hey, a one- to two-day u.s. military operation against the syrian regime that just won't cut it. he called for a much broader military operation in the model of the u.s.-led operation against the serbs in kosovo in 1998, something that would weaken the assad regime to the point of a compromise or even regime change entirely. and that is something that the obama administration has not really voiced support for, making it clear they do not want u.s. boots on the ground across the border here in syria. john? >> they made that clear and continue to make that clear. thanks so much, ivan. so an american president says a middle eastern country has become a threat to american security and u.s. military action is needed. some argue that president obama's comments on syria sound pretty similar to president
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bush's comments about iraq. my next guest says, not so fast. there are plenty of differences, she says, between those two conflicts. stay with us. nascar is about excitement. but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions of fans on social media can be a challenge. that's why we partnered with hp to build the new nascar fan and media engagement center. hp's technology helps us turn millions of tweets, posts and stories into real-time business insights that help nascar win with our fans.
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it was a decade ago when president george w. bush made his case for going to war with iraq and why mideast dictator was an essential step for both the united states and the world. >> the iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace. on the commands of a dictator, the regime is armed with biological and chemical weapons, possesses ballistic missiles, promotes international terror, and seeks nuclear weapons. >> nearly 11 years later another
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u.s. president is explaining why he feels getting involved in the middle east is in the best interest of the u.s. people. my next guest though says the similarities between the two conflicts are few. jane newton small is a terrific reporter and times magazine reporter. you've written an article that a lot of team are talking about for "time," "six ways syria 2013 isn't iraq in 2003." differences you say include how the u.s. is handling the regime, the time commitment given by the u.s., the support from the arab world and yooirp, weapons of mass destruction, and how much support there is from congress. let's begin with the first difference you list. regime change. explain the difference here. >> well, clearly when george w. bush went into iraq, his number one goal was ousting saddam hussein, getting hip out of there. and obama is exactly the opposite. he said over and over again this is not about regime change. while he does want bashar assad
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to go from syria he doesn't want to topple him now because there's no end to that equation. at the other end you don't know who is going to take his place. there's a real risk of it becoming a failed state, a giant power vacuum. that's the number one big difference. >> what about support from around the world, the arab region, and also in europe. because one of the things that's really happened since the other day when britain voted not to get involved is in some ways the u.s. is standing alone here in president bush, he didn't have the entire world on his side but he did have something of a coalition. >> no, he had a very big coalition, the coalition of the willing which involved dozens and dozens of states. in this case it's become a problem for obama, he does haven't the united nations, europe is split, nato can't get involved. they're hope that tomorrow the arab league will vote. they moved up their meeting from tuesday to tomorrow, significant significantly. and arab league might vote to support this. this is still not a guarantee because iraq and lebanon are
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very leery of any kind of u.s. involvement in syria. and so the arab league is also split. that is another big difference here is the level of international support you see between these two wars. >> another big difference, limited engagement. that's the world you keep on hearing. by the way, if there's one person who seems to want to agree with you that syria is not iraq is president obama because he and his administration seem to be bringing up iraq almost every time they're giving a justification for action in syria. >> there really seems to be almost a hangover from iraq. it left a huge scarring on the psyche of not only america but you look at britain and the failed vote there earlier this week where a lot of people worry about, you know, is the evidence correct. is there really chemical weapons. are we going to get embroiled in a decade long war which last time around bush said five months and short and we're out, ten years later we were just finally leaving. there is a real heriness not
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just by the american people but american politicians and around the world because of iraq to go into syria. >> jay newton-small, "time" magazine, thanks so much for come? >> thank you. the president today making his case for military action in syria. we're taking a closer look at his plan and his strong messages to congress, world leaders, and also the american people. but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions of fans on social media can be a challenge. that's why we partnered with hp to build the new nascar fan and media engagement center. hp's technology helps us turn millions of tweets, posts and stories into real-time business insights that help nascar win with our fans.